Sociocultural Influences on Binge Drinking Behaviour and the Public Policy Implications

Sociocultural Influences on Binge Drinking

Despite considerable investment and initiatives, binge drinking remains a financial, social and behavioural problem for policy makers and communities in many parts of the world. In this qualitative project, we have taken a unique approach to addressing young people’s binge-drinking behaviour by comparing and contrasting sociocultural influences in a sample of students from high (e.g. Australia, United Kingdom, Sweden) and moderate (e.g. Japan, Spain, France) binge-drinking countries.

As a result of the research, we identified three key areas of influence on binge-drinking behaviour:

  • Hedonistic influence; it is considered an enjoyable activity. Respondents from high binge-drinking countries consumed alcohol as a vehicle for having fun, to lose control, or as a relief from boredom. In contrast, in many of the moderate drinking countries, respondents consumed alcohol as an accompaniment to the social ritual of chatting, dancing and meeting new people.
  • Parental influence; parents play a more influential role in moderate drinking countries than high.
  • Peer, social affiliation and cultural norm influence; in high binge-drinking countries, getting ‘drunk’ is not only considered socially acceptable but is encouraged, whereas in moderate drinking countries binge-drinking behaviour is less acceptable because it could lead to embarrassment and loss of face.

Based on these findings, we discuss how policy, education and social marketing can play a coordinated role in moderating binge-drinking behaviour.


Guiding Theory:

  • Social Marketing Systems Approach

Other Team Members

  • Stephen Hogan, University of Brighton
  • Keith Perks, University of Brighton


  • Hogan, Stephen, Perks, Keith, Russell-Bennett, Rebekah (2014) Identifying the key sociocultural influences on drinking behavior in high and moderate binge-drinking countries and the public policy implications Journal of Public Policy and Marketing, 33 (1), pp.93-107.